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Eating it Up in Portland

By Jasmin Singer — January 25, 2010

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

When in Portland

I am here in the City of Roses (for a talk I gave at Let Live yesterday) and I’m eating my way through this uber-vegan-friendly town. I was here last summer and was…mystified…by the food selection. Unless you’ve been living under a big block of tofu, I’m sure that my reporting of Portland’s vegan awesomeness doesn’t come as a surprise.

Aside from the huge array of vegan restaurants, as well as vegan options at non-vegan restaurants, the thing that specifically tickled my organic pickle was the food cart situation, which is rampant here in Portland. Among the food carts, the ones that specialize in compassionate cuisine are certainly not slight. Vegan food carts are everywhere, making me one happy (and sated) consumer.

Earlier today, I stopped by Sonny Bowl, a food cart in “Southwest” (do I sound like a local?), serving “healthy and delicious vegan rice bowls.” Mine came with BBQ soy curls, brown rice, and green beans in ginger citrus sauce. The only unfortunate thing that came out of my experience at Sonny Bowl was my breath. (If I’ve had an in-person conversation with you this afternoon, I apologize.) The food was just as scrumptious as I knew it would be. (Soy curls; who knew?)

I ate my rice dish while standing on the sidewalk watching cars go by, wondering if the vegan dosa man back home in Greenwich Village was having a good day. (His is the only exclusively veg food cart in the Big Apple, and he’s worth the trip to Washington Square Park.) When I finished, I turned back around, gazing at the beautiful rows of food carts, when I noticed a second vegetarian one, D.C. Vegetarian. Upon further investigation, I gleefully realized that all the other carts, even though not exclusively vegan, had well-marked vegan options. Well how bout that…

Opening a vegan food cart is not only a fun and sometimes-mobile business venture for those of you looking to further your food activism via a “for-profit” model, but it can also be a way to bring delicious, cruelty-free, and affordable food to new communities.

Stay tuned for more Portland ramblings.

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